It’s a short song. Less than a hundred words parsed into eight verses packaged into four stanzas. It’s a short song about a great God to be sung by a redeemed people.
The God of Jacob is the focus of Psalm 114. The God before whom the sea fled, the river reversed course, and the mountains and hills wildly ran away. Why? It’s just what the earth does in the presence of the Lord, it trembles. It dances wildly in response to heavens majesty. It vacillates between retreat and drawing near as it responds to the Glory with a sense of dread and yet great joy as perfect holiness draws near. It is the fear of awe and worship. It’s just what creation does when it sees its Creator.
But while God is the focus of the song, what captures my attention this morning is the first stanza which talks of His people. And I tremble. Because I’m reminded that God’s people have been redeemed not just FROM something but FOR Someone.
When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language, Judah became His sanctuary, Israel His dominion.
(Psalm 114:1-2 ESV)
They were led out of Egypt. They escaped the angel of death and were delivered from the land of bondage. They were showered with the plunder of their oppressors and were free to worship the God of their liberation. A pretty good day, all in all, for the house of Jacob. There were saved FROM slavery, freed FROM oppression, rescued FROM their enemies.
But while it was so about them, it really wasn’t about them at all. Not when you consider what they were rescued FOR.
Judah’s redemption was so that they would become their Redeemer’s sanctuary. Israel’s rescue was so that the people might become their Rescuer’s dominion. They were to be a place where His glory would dwell and His rule would be known on earth.
Those led out of Egypt were to be God’s holy place. They were set apart so that the God of heaven might touch down on earth in their midst. Provision made to make the unholy holy, so that He who is holy, holy, holy might be manifest among them. Not perfect people, but purchased people, fit because of God’s sanctifying work alone to be the place of His dwelling on earth. That they were saved FROM Egypt was amazing, that they were saved FOR His holy dwelling place was fall to your face, tremble in your boots, awe invoking.
Those delivered from Pharaoh were also called to be the realm of God’s rule. Want some insight as to the inner workings of heaven? Look no further than to God’s people. Among them would be God’s kingdom on earth. The precepts, the principles, the practices, and the power of heaven would be seen in them as they traded the rusting chains of Egypt for an unreserved allegiance to heaven. Though the throne in their midst would be seen by faith, their obedience to Him who sits on the throne would be known in their faithfulness. Saved FROM the tyrannical rule of one who sought only to use them up and spit them out, they were also saved FOR Him who had come to give them life, true life, life to the full.
That’s the FROM and FOR of the people of God. To see our salvation only in terms of what we’ve avoided is to only see half a salvation. But to grasp something of what we have been saved FOR is to whirl about, flipping back and forth between holy fear and inexpressible joy, in glorious worship to our God.
God’s people have been called out so that they might be “a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22). They have been gathered apart to demonstrate what heavenly rule looks like–“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13).
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.
(Psalm 114:7-8 ESV)
When I pause to consider anew not only what I have been rescued FROM but also what I have been redeemed FOR, it’s enough to make me tremble.
Because of His wondrous grace . . . all for His awesome glory!